One particular style of bracelet has stood the test of time. Although there is archaeological evidence that charm bracelets were worn as long ago as 600 to 400 BC, the charm bracelet, in various forms, is still popular today. The jewellery item has evolved over the decades, but still retains its basic concept…a bracelet with personalized charms, talisman or trinkets attached to it that have a special meaning or importance to the wearer. Let us look at how charm bracelets have changed over time.
Although there is evidence of Neolithic era in which hunters would carry interesting stones and trinkets for good luck and made of wood, bone or stone. It wasn’t until the Egyptian Age that we have evidence of Pharaohs being buried with elaborate gold and silver jewellery and jewellery embedded with precious and rare stones. It is in many of such tombs that archaeologists rescued the first examples of charms and charm bracelets as we recognise them today.
The first record of charms being used as a means of a symbol of one’s own life was in Rome, where Christians, fearful of letting others know their own religious belief used to carry small charms in the shape of a fish. This let other Christians know of their religious leaning. The fish charm here was used because of the Greek word for fish (“ichthys”) which was an acronym for “Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ” (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour). With a fascination for symbols the Greeks and Romans wore other such charms, again mainly out of superstition and respect for the Gods.
It was Queen Victoria, who is credited with bringing the charm bracelet into fashion, especially among the wealthy elite class of Europe. Not only did she frequently wear them, but Queen Victoria loved to give charm bracelets as gifts and took care to personalize the charms to fit the likes of the recipient. She single-handedly created a fashion craze across Europe. The upper class began wearing charm bracelets, in part to be like the Queen and in part to openly flaunt their wealth. When Queen Victoria’s beloved Prince Albert died, she had a “mourning” charm bracelet made. Among the charms on this bracelet was a locket with a miniature photograph of Prince Albert inside, a locket of his hair, and mementos of their life together.
It wasn’t until World War II, however, when soldiers, who collected trinkets as a reminder of men they knew, the women they loved, and their time in battle that the wearing of charms really took off throughout Britain and the rest of Europe.
Soldiers found that they could purchase small, easy-to-carry trinkets and charms to send home or bring home to their sweethearts. These charms helped the wives and girlfriends of servicemen feel connected to the places their soldiers were stationed.
As a result of this, charm bracelets became immensely popular throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and as a popular gift on a girls’ 16th or 18th birthday or as a wedding or engagement present. With charms added they make up a unique record of mthe wearers likes, loves, travels and life. It is this aspect of charm bracelets which have kept them immensely popular since then.
The charm bracelet today consists of the traditional types of charms through to the modern versions such as Links and Pandora meaning the charm bracelet is as popular as ever and will continue to be a timeless classic.